Disclosure: I received 8 free mixes from Allergic Solutions, 4 to use and 4 to give away on the blog using whatever method I preferred. For the giveaway I will be paying the postage out of my own pocket so I have to limit entries to the United States. All opinions, experiences, and pictures are my own. Please confirm that any product is safe for your family before using it.
My friend Jenny at Multiple Food Allergy Help forwarded me a request from the Canada-based company Allergic Solution looking for bloggers to try their baking mixes, review them, and do a giveaway. I was intrigued by their bean flour mixes because while I know classic gluten free baking used bean flours, I had heard mixed things about them and only used garbanzo bean flour early on in my attempts to make safe treats for my family. After I discovered rice based blends I never looked back but the big selling point for bean flours is that they have a higher protein content than rice flour. Hence my interest in trying these mixes. I e-mailed the company’s representative and they didn’t mind that my blog is a small one and didn’t even have any specific requests regarding the giveaway. I liked that they genuinely seemed to be interested in sharing their product in case it was a good fit for people dealing with food allergies or other special dietary needs. The mixes are normally $6.79 for what is pretty much a single use portion customized into one of four categories: Pancake & Waffle, Vanilla Cake, Yeast Free Bread, or Carob Cake. I mention the price because that can be a big factor when we’re already having to buy so many specialty products to accommodate food allergies.
I started with the pancake mix. Despite touting on the packaging that the mixes are free from common allergens such as egg, wheat, corn, soy, and nuts, the recipe included on the package involved using eggs. While alternate recipes are on the company’s website, I would have liked to see an allergen free recipe on the package and the egg-inclusive version on the website instead (Edited to add: Scroll down to the comments to this post to read an explanation from the company’s founder regarding space limitations dictating the choice of recipe for this package). Speaking of the allergens, Allergic Solution is open on the packaging about there being potential corn and/or soy traces in their mixes. This goes to the heart of some of the disclosure debate going on here in the U.S. – do we want to know that a product could have the tiniest trace of an allergen so we can decide whether to use it? I for one appreciate the company’s openness. But I digress.
The pancake mix was the perfect opportunity to break out Colette Martin’s Learning to Bake Allergen-Free (amazon affiliate link) because of the sections where Colette gives the reader advice on adapting store-bought mixes to be allergy friendly (I have so many recipes in her book on my “to try” list but have been swamped with work lately!). By the way, if you haven’t checked out Colette’s website, Learning to Eat Allergy Free, I highly recommend it.
I used tips from Colette’s recipe to adapt the package’s recipe for our purposes and the results were well received by the kids, my mother in law, and myself for breakfast. I love that Colette’s book gives you the tools you need to make substitutions on the fly by specifically laying out ingredient equivalents. The pancakes that resulted seemed a little soft in the middle at first but as they cooled they improved and the bean flour made them feel substantial and pliable. Though they weren’t thin, they reminded me a little of crepes and I ate my pancakes with sugar and lemon juice.
On another morning I decided to give the Vanilla Cake mix a try. The package’s recipe didn’t need adapting aside from how much sugar I wanted to add (I believe I went with a third of a cup or so) and I added 1 1/2 cups of frozen blueberries to the batter before spooning portions into cupcake liners for baking. I baked them for 24 minutes and they made for a lovely breakfast treat. These were my personal favorite with a little Earth Balance Soy Free Spread melted on them fresh out of the oven.
The Yeast Free Bread mix was up next. I didn’t have ground chia seeds as recommended by the recipe on the package so I used whole chia seeds and that may account for the crumbly nature of the bread when it came time to slice it. The texture and flavor were good but a sandwich bread this was not. Of the four mixes it was my least favorite because my mother in law makes a garbanzo bean biscuit that I prefer but that isn’t to say we didn’t finish this loaf up in about a day.
Last, but not least, was the Carob Cake mix. I’ve never tried carob that I know of and it had a subtle flavor that grew on me quickly. We put more sugar in these than we had in the blueberry muffins (half a cup) and even then they weren’t overly sweet. R and I spooned teaspoons of raspberry jam onto the tops of the batter after filling the cupcake liners and the jam ended up sinking to the center of the cupcakes with delicious results. I suppose it is the height of decadence to not even have to put jam on your breakfast baked goods because it is already inside but by this point the kids were starting to think that every day we were going to have something yummy to start our day aside from the usual rice cereal or rice bread toast.
We really enjoyed all the mixes and look forward to sharing some with you! Just a few other notes for my review first – my mother in law remarked that the font size on the English/French packaging is very small. The warning about potential soy and corn cross contamination is printed on a crease near the top of the bag and might be missed if you are not careful. That said, along with my comment above about the chosen sample recipes on the packages, I think these are minor points. It is obvious that Allergic Solution wants you to use their mixes as a canvas and it was fun to experiment a little bit with pre-made mixes. Even at $6.79 I can see keeping the cake mixes especially on hand for the emergency birthday party notice. I didn’t get to test how one of the cupcakes froze, however, which I’d hoped to do as I was thinking about birthday party possibilities. They simply didn’t last long enough to go into the freezer.
As a result of trying these mixes, my husband asked if we could seek out some other bean flour based recipes. I am looking forward to it!
Thank you to Allergic Solution for sharing the mixes with me.
I’d like to pick one random commenter on this post (with a U.S. address) to receive a set of the four mixes featured in my review. I’ll select one comment at random after entries close on April 30, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time. To enter, simply comment on this post and let me know if you’ve ever tried baking with bean flours. Please provide your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win. The winner will have 48 hours to reply to my e-mail notification of their win with their U.S. mailing address so I can put their mixes in the post or I’ll randomly select another winner. The winner is Amanda from Celiac and Allergy Adventures! Good luck! Thank you!